Thursday, 8 January 2015

Misses the photo beat of the city

Too many photos had lettering cut at the top which pulled the eye out of the frame.

Right: one of the more interesting photos in the book, nicely framed and plenty of visual interest.

Right: more cut lettering which the eye goes to instantly and then to the two uprights
framing the bridge in the distance.

Bismarck, North Dakota like any State capitol will have plenty of visual opportunities to capture American commonplace street scenes. German photographer Dirk Reinartz was drawn particularly to Bismark because of its namesake Otto von Bismarck the Prussian statesman. There are no captions (or page numbers) to date the sixty-eight photos but as the book was published in 2000 I assume they were taken during the 1990's.

Overall I was disappointed with the selection, in particular the framing of so many of the images. Frequently there is something cropped off the top -- for example: it could be a road sign; a telephone kiosk; a sign on the side of a building, they all pull the eye out of the photo and to my mind it seems a serious flaw. Other photos are really quite mundane with nothing much to look at but even a dull photo can be redeemed by capturing the effect of light as it falls across the external texture of a building. Stephen Shore seemed to be a master in capturing sunlight as it created shadows in a street. Reinartz does deliver some excellent photos but they are too few to give the book a lift. Also, just quickly flicking through the pages show that the photos lack any color sparkle. Streets in the commercial and retail areas of any American cities reveal a kaleidoscope of color from signs, trucks, shop fronts, billboards, street furniture et cetera, the photos here miss so much of this color.

Bismarck in America is a bland photo record of this interesting city.

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